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Garland Jeffreys - The King of In Between

Luna Park

By Brian Baker · November 16th, 2011 · Short Takes
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From the beginning of his career four decades ago, Garland Jeffreys’ work has been laced with the realities of his New York upbringing, his African-American/Puerto Rican heritage and his subsequent unique perspective. Jeffreys assiduously avoided pigeonholing — and airplay — by cooking up a sonic stew that mirrored his melting pot environment, randomly flavoring his songs of social observation and outrage with Soul, Reggae, Pop, Rock and Blues. Although Jeffreys was given the unenviable “Next Big Thing” tag early on, he’s been largely relegated to cult status since.

Jeffreys blends the multi-textured sound of his early albums with his later Rock-centric releases on The King of In Between, his first LP of new material released in the U.S. in nearly 20 years. From the infectious Indie Rock ring of “Coney Island Winter,” the David Baerwald-meets-Curtis Mayfield noir Pop/Soul of “Streetwise” and the Blues thump of “’til John Lee Hooker Calls Me” to the Blues/Folk chug of “Love is Not a Cliché,” the Stonesy bluster of “Rock and Roll Music” and the Graham Parker-on-a-Reggae-buzz bounce of “The Beautiful Truth,” Jeffreys effortlessly blows through his style catalog and shows that he’s lost none of the power or the social consciousness that made him the critics’ darling. It’s rare enough for an artist to conjure up an album with the kind of power and personality to be considered a career-defining work, but Jeffreys has done just that with The King of In Between, an astonishing 40 years after his debut. Grade: A-

 
 
 
 

 

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